Re The SUN NEWS Editorial Board:
Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe (MMBFCS) appreciates a well written and balanced editorial in the Feb. 19th edition of your paper. The editorial encourages a civil and balanced compromise based solution to the beach parking issue in the city of Myrtle Beach. This issue arose when restrictive parking and access policies were enacted in some of the best beach areas on the Grand Strand last July, beach areas many of us moved here to enjoy. We would like to offer a response.
MMBFCS was created from and is a grass roots citizens group, not a political PAC or 501-C3 organization. Those of us living outside city lines recognize we are not city residents. Sadly, we never realized there would be such a wall built between the City Council and surrounding area citizens.
The mindset of the city is that if you don’t live within city lines, you are a tourist. That simply is a false assumption. That thought process is divisive, counter-productive and splits community, exactly the opposite of what small cities need in this era. Among the pleasant surprises since this group formed has been the number of city residents who have joined and support the cause. Why? Because many say they recognize the good non-city residents bring and how the parking problems were overblown and the solution too aggressive. They also recognize the damage done to many small businesses.
Upon the establishment of the parking (and hence access) restrictions, MMBFCS has sought to discuss and offer solutions. No one in this group believes that any city resident, or anyone else, should have to put up with people parking, and performing lewd acts, in their front yards. Horry County Council members, to their credit, recognized the divide and attempted to get a reasonable compromise.
When there seemed to be a possible balanced solution, City Council reversed what they told County Council and held their ground against non-city residents. We appreciate the efforts of County Council and hope they will continue working for a fair solution.
County residents were offered the opportunity to buy a placard for $100 which would allow some parking privileges. A paid parking pass may well be one of the costs of the large growth we all have to accept. The net, however, was that the metered parking lots at the end of the numbered streets in the Golden Mile were excluded from the so-called compromise. Of the approximately 600 parking spots in the Golden Mile, roughly 400 are excluded. Combine that with the prohibition of parking on the numbered streets and the removal of parking on Ocean Boulevard, and one can certainly view this as an attempt to make the Golden Mile beaches private rather than open access.
We later found that the same placard could be bought by vacationers. We value the vacationers, their commerce and contributions to the area, but does not our year-around residence count for something? We pay year-round taxes to the county - which benefits city residents - and we support local businesses year round, paying an extra tax to the city for goods and services. We volunteer in city homeless shelters, have fund-raisers for city animal shelters and open our roads to bike week traffic as they are diverted off city roads.
We seek to be trusted neighbors. Fostering that relationship would be of value to city merchants and Myrtle Beach residents. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case, at least with City Council. We hope change can occur on that front.
We implore Myrtle Beach City Council to talk to us; let us make suggestions as to how everyone’s goals can be accomplished.
Reasonable compromise can take many forms if people simply sit down and talk in good faith.
We are local residents - not tourists from Albuquerque.
The writers are members of the Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe Steering Committee.